It’s been a weird year for me. I’ve been spending so much time working on my doctorate it’s left less time for films, something I need to rectify in 2012 but even so, I loved a lot of movies this year and as ever, my top 3, I think, would stand up against any year’s offerings. I was also really encouraged by the power of lower budget, independent British work, some of which is represented in this list. Here’s to 2012.
10. Sound It Out – Jeanie Finlay
So much heart, so much great music and a valuable social document. This crowd-funded film is a wonderful story of a dying breed and a celebration of the joy and compulsion of collecting.
Listen to the DN interview with director Jeanie Finlay.
9. True Grit – Coen Brothers
Life at the top of the Hollywood food chain seems to suit the Brothers Coen, this remake far exceeds the original. Gripping, classy, classic Western. First rate studio filmmaking.
8. Treacle Jr. – Jamie Thraves
Low budget, simple story, the return of Jamie Thraves is masterful, refreshing British cinema and features exquisite performances from Aidan Gillen and Tom Fisher in the lead roles.
7. Hugo – Martin Scorsese
Scorsese’s love letter to cinema is a technical marvel and deeply heartfelt tale of childhood, movies, stories, the past and family. It’s a truly wondrous experience and the best use of 3D to date.
6. Essential Killing – Jerzy Skolimowski
Vincent Gallo is an escaped terrorist prisoner on the run in the wilderness doing whatever he can to survive in this near silent, primal film that subverts and challenges to the core.
Read the DN review of Essential Killing.
5. Tyrannosaur – Paddy Considine
The directorial debut of Paddy Considine is a visceral and gut wrenching tale featuring two incredible performances from Olivia Colman and Peter Mullan and the a phenomenal use of the cinematic power of the close up.
Read the DN review of Tyrannosaur.
4. Super 8 – J.J. Abrams
How all summer blockbusters should be. J.J. Abrams channels Spielberg but comes away with a slice of brilliance all his own.
3. A Separation – Asghar Farhadi
Devastating family and social drama from Iran. Haunting and morally complex. Incredibly written and performed.
2. 13 Assassins – Takashi Miike
This samurai movie by Takashi Miike is a stylish and gripping tale of old values and bygone moralities. A fantastic story beautifully told, a breath of fresh air. I love samurai movies and this is a classic of the genre.
1. Drive – Nicolas Winding Refn
Nicolas Winding Refn’s sleek slice of LA pulp is cool, brutal, intense and thanks to Ryan Gosling’s performance, carved out one of the most memorable screen characters for an age. An absolutely phenomenal movie.
Read the DN review of Drive.